Two police officers were shot outside the police station in Ferguson, Missouri during a night of protests following the resignation of Ferguson police chief, Thomas Jackson, The New York Times reports.
Four shots were fired, according to one source, at around midnight Thursday. A St. Louis County officer was shot in the shoulder, while the other, from the suburbs of Webster Groves, was shot in the face. While both remain in critical condition at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, their injuries are not life-threatening.
Authorities have yet to name a suspect, but they believe the shots came from a gunman perched on top of a hill about 220 yards across from the station. Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County Police Department said he believed “these shots were directed exactly at my police officers.
“I’ve said all along that we cannot sustain this forever without problems,” Belmar told reporters of the incident. He said he had feared violence against officers since protests began seven months ago after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.
Wednesday night’s protest found demonstrators celebrating the resignation of Jackson and other high-ranking Ferguson officials such as city manager John Shaw and municipal judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer. Their resignations came after the release of a scathing Justice Department report, which uncovered widespread systemic racial bias and unconstitutional practices in the city’s police department and court system.
While protestors were elated at the resignations, they demanded further action be taken, calling for Ferguson mayor James Knowles III to step down as well. Protests were generally peaceful before the shooting, though several arrests were made.
The shootings, however, could reignite tensions between protestors and police, which turned especially violent after a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Wilson for killing Brown in November. As the Times noted, a number of lingering protestors were approached by police investigators after the shooting, but few offered their help.